Snow On Top Of The Ozarks

January 09, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

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     This week there was a winter storm that affected the higher elevations of the Ozarks. As time drew closer to the event, with the help of my experience in forecasting the weather in the state of Arkansas, confidence was high that this was going to be elevation driven winter storm. Below was a computer model (called the HRRR model) forecast from the day before that I based my decision on where to be for this event. It was suggesting that the highest snow amounts were to be in the higher elevations (around and above 2000 ft. elevation), particularly in/near Newton County and other of the highest mountaintops, such as Mount Magazine, in western Arkansas.

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     I made the decision to drive to Newton County and "snow chase". The forecast was pretty much spot on where the accumulations would be. With such marginally cold temperatures, it was a particularly wet snow that was pasty and stuck to the branches of the trees. In general, the warmer the temperature...the wetter the snow. With a colder temperature (roughly mid 20s and colder), the result would be a more powdery snow.

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     It was rather fascinating to see the difference in snow between the higher elevations and the lower elevations. The picture below was taken at about 2,000 feet above sea level but you can look down on the Buffalo River Valley at about 1,300 feet above sea level. Notice the difference in the amount of snow on the trees. Down on the valley floor, many of the snowflakes melted into raindrops. This is about the closest thing you can get to snow capped mountains in Arkansas!

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     I thought I would take a walk in the woods to a waterfall. However, as you drop in elevation, the amount of snow was lower and already melting. This waterfall in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness was at about 1,800 feet above sea level. Still, the water was nice and the beech trees (beech trees hold their leaves all winter) in the background added a little color.

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     Winter is almost half over, but maybe there will be more opportunities to photograph snow later in the season.


Waterfalls and Rainforests of the Pacific Northwest

January 03, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

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     Happy New Year!  Although I didn't do quite as much traveling this past year (in part to COVID), I did make it to the Pacific Northwest a couple of times this past year. I thought I would take one last look back to my journeys to Oregon and Washington in 2020. I visited a couple of new national parks this year (North Cascades and Crater Lake) but also visited a couple of familiar favorites (Olympic and Mount Rainier). 

The western part of Washington and Oregon sees a lot of rain, especially in the colder half of the year.  The terrain and high rainfall means there are numerous waterfalls.  SouthFallsSilverFallsSPWebSouthFallsSilverFallsSPWeb

One of the larger and more photogenic waterfalls in Oregon is located in Silver Falls State Park, near Salem. A 7+ mile hike on the Trail Of Ten Falls is the best way to see this beautiful state park. Above you can see a picture of South Falls, one of those 10 waterfalls. I was here in October, the best month to see fall foliage here.  Although the majority of trees in Oregon are evergreen, there are some maple trees that make for some splashes of color in such a green forest. 

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Pictured above are Tokeete Falls in Oregon (left) and Falls Creek Falls in Washington (right).

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Pictured above are Panther Creek Falls (left) and Christine Falls in Washington (right).

A trip to see Pacific Northwest waterfalls would not be complete without a visit to the Columbia River Gorge. Another large and photogenic waterfall in Oregon is Multnomah Falls.  Because it is literally next to a rest stop on I-84 east of Portland, it is photographed hundreds of times a day.  However, it was a must see for this first time visitor to the Columbia River Gorge. 

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Other waterfalls can be seen with a short hike from the road, such as this waterfall known as Fairy Falls.

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The Pacific Northwest is also home of old growth rain forests. When most people think of rain forests, they tend think of the Amazon or a location that is closer to the Equator. The area along the coast from western Washington up to southern Alaska is known as a temperate rainforest. This temperate rainforest is different than a warmer tropical rainforest. Here, the western slopes of the mountains are the first area to get hit with the moisture-laden wind and rain storms that come in from the Pacific Ocean. As the air rises along the westward slopes of these mountains it cools and yields precipitation, and lots of it.


So how much rain do you need to distinguish a rain forest from just any forest?  The answer is a rain forest sees around or above a 100 inches of rain a year. 

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The result is some of most lush forests in the world. Common trees along the Washington coast include Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock. Many of these trees have clumps of moss hanging on the branches with numerous ferns on the ground. 

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I'm already thinking about another trip back to this part of the country...next time it will be to spend more time on the Oregon Coast. 


2021 Calendar Images

December 20, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Now is the time to order get those 2021 wall calendars and my photography has been featured in 3 different state calendars.

This image of Pinnacle Mountain was taken from January 2016, which was the last time central Arkansas saw a big snow.  This was on a morning just after it had snowed about 8 inches. 

PinnacleMtAR_DSPinnacleMtAR_DSSnow at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Arkansas suring January 2016.

That picture is featured on the January page of the Arkansas Wild & Scenic 2021 wall calendar from Brown Trout Publishing. It can be ordered here.

Another winter picture of mine is featured on the February page of the Missouri Wild & Scenic 2021 wall calendar that can be ordered here. It was -4 degrees on this January morning at Grand Falls near Joplin, Missouri. 

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I am also featured on the April page of 2021 Oklahoma Wall Calendar from Smith-Southwestern. This image was from the grounds of the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa. 

DamonShawTulsaPhilbrook2EditedDamonShawTulsaPhilbrook2EditedThe gardens at Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma during May 2019.


Mount Rainier: America's Mountain

November 21, 2020  •  1 Comment

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It's been a pretty busy couple of months for me and my wife.  This fall, we completed a move together from our former home in Fayetteville to our new home in Rogers. I have also been working on a new project, which I will reveal to you in 2021. 

Anyway, I'm finally getting around to working on my photos from my two trips to Mount Rainier earlier this year. A longer visit back in August and a brief visit again in October.  

Early August is typically the peak of wildflower season here. My favorite hike was a destination on the Wonderland Trail known as "Indian Henry's Hunting Ground" where there were many flowers in bloom. 

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On this same 6-mile one way hike was The appropriately named Mirror Lake. Despite walking back to the car in the dark, it was worth being there during the early evening to see the beautiful reflections and flowers there. 

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I was also able to get some nice reflections with a thin layer of morning fog at Bench Lake. 

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     At over 14,000 feet, Mount Rainier is one of the highest mountains in the lower 48. From base to summit, it is also the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States. To me, Mount Rainier is the most impressive and beautiful mountain in the lower 48.  A couple of times, I have found myself even startled when I first see the glaciated summit.

     It is still potentially an active volcano that will likely reawaken in the future. Eyewitnesses in Seattle last reported eruptive activity in 1894, but it has been quiet since.  Some of you can remember when nearby Mount St. Helen's had a violent eruption in 1980.

      I'm glad that I made my visit shortly before all the Pacific Northwest fires that would occur later in August and September. Skies were clear for the majority of the time but I also had some occasional atmospherics such as fog and some light haze. 

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On my second trip to the Pacific Northwest this year, I briefly visited Mount Rainier, but this time after an early snow in October. 

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I have more pictures to go through from Oregon and Washington. On the next blog, I will be writing about the rainforest and waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. 


Loose in the Palouse

September 07, 2020  •  1 Comment

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Welcome to September! The weather is getting cooler across middle part of the nation this week and we are transitioning from summer to fall. That also means harvest season. On my recent trip to Washington, I visited a farming region in southeast Washington known as "The Palouse". Centered around towns like Colfax and Pullman, Whitman County is the number one wheat producing county in the United States. 

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The Palouse is characterized by gentle rolling hills covered with wheat fields. The hills were formed over tens of thousands of years from wind blown dust and silt, called "loess", from dry regions to the southwest. The best vantage point to see these hills is from the summit of Steptoe Butte. They look like giant sand dunes because they were formed in much the same way.

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With an ultra zoom lens from atop Steptoe Butte, the patterns of these rolling hills are especially fun to compose in the low light just after sunrise and just before sunset. 
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The isolated cottonwood trees can also be fun subjects in the vast wheat fields. 

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The landscape here is much like western Kansas...but with bigger hills! There are a few old barns and abandoned homes as well. 

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